Sunday, January 10, 2010

From Handouts to How-to

In this brief return to the discussion on hunger, food stamps, and food banks, I just want to link readers to a little article I read last night in Orion Magazine online: From Handouts to How To, by Kyle Boelte in Tucson AZ. He writes that at this time of economic downturn, the Tucson Community Food Bank is demonstrating how long-term thinking can solve food insecurity.
"The Food Bank believes that gardening isn’t just a pastime for the well-to-do, but that it’s an important adaptation that anyone with access to a little space, water, and sunlight can make."
This Food Bank itself has a 7000 ft. demonstration organic garden, where it grows food which it sells at its own Farmers' Market, at affordable prices, along with eggs from the chickens they keep onsite. They also hold gardening workshops for clients and send out experts to help people in the community design and develop their own gardens. I have to say that this is Lisa's "Teach a man to fish...." idea taken to a wonderful extreme.

When I lived in East Dallas, there was a stretch of Fitzhugh Ave where empty lots and marginal land had been turned into fantastic community gardens by the mostly Southeast Asian immigrant population that lived in the area. These were longterm garden projects, where the members had built sheds for storage, shade structures, installed poles and other devices for climbing crops, places that acted not just as food sources, but community sites for gathering to socialize as they worked. I just did a little Internet exploring, and discovered that these gardens are still going strong, have been for over twenty years. There is even a website for the Gardens, here. While I believe the gardens started as a spontaneous necessity for recent immigrants to have a source for the fresh greens and vegetables that are part of their traditional diet, they have now become members of the American Community Garden Association, which has numerous gardens in the North Texas area. Gardening most assuredly is not a "pastime for the rich" and I can't imagine that many people think of it that way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These programs are wonderful, I was involved in a program with an organization in St. Louis back in the late seventies that worked in the inner city to get abandoned lots turned into neighborhood gardens. Teaching people to garden their own food not only gives them a sense of accomplishment but it really changes their fundemental relationship to food.
They actually develop a different attitude when they have plowed, and seeded, watered and nurtured. It is a dramatic transformation. But just as the gardens need tending, these programs need tending and nurturing to keep them alive and often this means adequate funding.
The program I worked on died out after the public funding cuts that came in the eighties.